Paid to look the other way

Public drinking is a punishable offense but business owners in Ladanna claim it is a frequent occurrence and police have turned a blind eye.

POLOKWANE – A number of business owners in Ladanna feel their complaints fall on deaf ears as they claim certain police officers are paid to look the other way when it comes to unlawful activity in the area.

Consuming alcohol in public, an illegal practice, takes place frequently in Witklip Street.

Business owners on this street say they have been battling with this occurrence for years. They say patrons of restaurants and bars in the area park outside their businesses and some drink alcohol outside the bar, right on the street.

“Even if we call the police and report such incidents, nothing gets done. The police don’t dispatch officers to the area to address the issues and as a result, we lose business because the area is not safe,” one of the owners told Review.

Another owner claims the reason people feel unsafe and stay away for their businesses is because very often, fights among patrons break out and they use broken bottles as weapons in these fights.

“It’s a nightmare that just won’t end. At first it only happened on weekends, we would arrive at work on Mondays to find the parking area littered with broken glass and beer bottles that were bought and opened but never consumed. In recent times, its a daily struggle. We often have to clean the area in the mornings before we open for business.”

These business owners say when they confront the owners of the restaurants and bars where the people who litter and start fights frequent, they become targets. Some of these owners say in the past, their vehicles and shops have been damaged after they complained. It is for this reason that they prefer to remain anonymous.

A business owner told Review in confidence that he witnessed a police officer receiving bribe money so he would ignore business owners’ complaints.

“I was present on more than one occasion where a police officer was paid not to respond to complaints or open cases when they are called out to break up fights and remove patrons who drink alcohol in public. The officers will drop by to collect their ‘package’ and that sees an end to the cases.”

According to the business owner, members of his family were threatened when they tried to take pictures of police vehicles and the officers who are believed to take bribes.

Provincial Police Spokesperson Lt. Kol. Moatshe Ngoepe says instances where police officers who are found guilty of taking bribes are taken very seriously.

He calls on the public to provide information to the provincial office or call the South African anti-crime line at 0860 101 248 to report corrupt officers. You can also send an email to safps@safps.org.za to report cases.

“When reporting cases involving corrupt officers, it is important to give information such as the vehicle registration number and the date and time the incident took place. This will help the police pin down people who do not respect the law,” he said.

Provincial Chairperson of the South African Policing Union (SAPU), Solly Bulala, said there are pending cases against police officials who act outside the law. Complaints against police officials can be handed in at the union offices located in Church Street or call  (015) 291 2769 during office hours.

riana@nmgroup.co.za

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  AUTHOR
Riana Joubert
Journalist

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